Meegwetch, Madam Chair.
I'm glad to be here with you to today on the traditional Algonquin territory to present our departmental supplementary estimates (C) for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
I am the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. I am joined by Hélène Laurendeau, deputy minister, and Paul Thoppil, chief financial officer.
We also welcome you, Madam Chair, as the new chair and we look forward to working with you and all of the committee members on tackling the critical issues facing indigenous people and northerners. We also want to acknowledge the important work of this committee over the past several months on difficult and complex issues, such as the ongoing suicide crisis in indigenous communities. I just want to say that I'm very happy to hear that you've decided to study the default prevention and management program. We look forward to reading the results of your work and to be able to put in important changes.
So, we welcome the scrutiny of these estimates. As you know, the supplementary estimates (C) exercise is an important one, as it's the final appropriation act for this fiscal year and, with your assent, the work that was started this year in budget 2016 can continue in key areas.
The tabling of the Supplementary Estimates (C) allows for more than an examination and approval of departmental disbursements. It permits us to look back at the progress we've made since the tabling of the Main Estimates and Supplementary Estimates (A) and (B).
Budget 2016, as you all know, made an unprecedented investment of $8.4 billion over five years for indigenous peoples. These funds are critical to reconciliation and to advancing the government's objective to renew the relationship with indigenous people by making real progress on the issues that matter in daily life, issues such as child welfare, housing, water, education, culture, and food security.
I am proud to inform this committee that the funding is flowing into the communities. As of February 15, 2017, over 90% of this year's money had already been allocated to indigenous communities in the form of funding agreements.
This year, alone, our targeted investments have resulted in 201 water and wastewater projects, 965 housing projects, 125 education infrastructure projects and 167 culture and recreation projects.
These estimates support requests totalling $92 million, bringing the total appropriations for the department to approximately $9.5 billion for this fiscal year. This is an increase compared to last year's total appropriations, which were $8.9 billion.
Traditionally, supplementary estimates (C) tackle largely technical matters as the fiscal year comes to a close.
Included in these estimates is $56 million to support emergency management operations on-reserve. There is also $22 million in funding for Operation Return Home: Manitoba Interlake flood remediation and settlement. Operation Return Home will continue to help repair, rebuild, and re-establish four Manitoba first nations that were impacted by the severe flooding in 2011.
Our government believes that negotiation, rather than litigation, is the best way to settle disputes and right historical wrongs.
I was proud, a few weeks ago, to announce that I have the mandate now to negotiate a resolution to the sixties scoop, a dark and tragic period in our history. I am also proud that our government successfully settled the Anderson class action and that we have appointed a special representative to engage in discussions towards a resolution of the Gottfriedson class action.
These estimates contain more than $3 million in funding for research in the indigenous childhood claims litigation. I cannot stress enough that settling these types of claims not only is the right thing to do, but also continues to advance our reconciliation efforts.
Funding of $1.8 million is going to the Arctic regional environmental studies to inform decision-making on offshore oil and gas activities that could affect three regions of the Canadian Arctic.
This funding supports our government's commitment to integrating indigenous traditional knowledge into the assessments of potential impacts.
As you know, last December the announced that Arctic Canadian waters were declared indefinitely off limits to offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, with a science-based review to happen in five years. Arctic regional environmental studies will play an important role in that five-year review. These studies will draw on both scientific and indigenous knowledge to support decision-making around possible future resource development and other commercial activities in these regions.
I value your opinions, advice, and assistance as we continue to implement an agenda that advances reconciliation.
As Gord Downie reminded us Canadians during his Secret Path performances, we have 150 years behind us that we need to learn from and we've got 150 years ahead and we'd better just get to work.
I am looking forward to the next steps of this work together.
My colleagues will now join me in answering your questions about these estimates.
On behalf of all of us, thank you, meegwetch, for the invitation to be with you today.
I think the most difficult problem we have right now is the capacity in certain communities to use the money and to apply early. It seems that communities with the most difficulties don't have the capacity to get the proposals in on time.
In housing, we did it in three tranches such that we could work with the communities that needed it a lot, for a third entry point on housing. But as we go forward, these are the kinds of things we hope to be able to change. What was before the year-on-year funding meant, if you can say, that the communities that weren't as needy were the best at getting their proposals in, so other communities continued to fall behind. We're trying to make sure that we are building capacity and that we can find different timing to do this long-term planning.
Mr. Massé, you say our ability to encourage comprehensive community plans seems to be the way. In British Columbia, it's going very well. There's recently been another. In Manitoba, they've begun a conference to build that capacity. Once you have a comprehensive community plan, where it's not just chief and council, but also the principal, the nurse, the police chief, the elders, and the youth all planning for long term.... Now that we have money over a five-year period that can do this, we can actually help them really develop their infrastructure needs in a really credible and cohesive way. We are also learning that it also deals with child welfare. It also deals with missing and murdered indigenous people. When communities come together to develop this plan, then we can back them up. Their knowing that this year they will get this much and next year they will get the next is going to help us lift, in a way that I think all Canadians want us to, some of these communities that have been struggling.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for joining us today.
I want to start with a bit of a comment. The ability and responsibility that parliamentarians have to scrutinize the spending of government is one of the most important tasks we have. It's the ability to look at what the plans are through the budget process, and it's the ability through main estimates and a variety of accountability mechanisms to actually see how the government is spending the dollars that people work so hard for.
Of course, you'll notice that we have a really important structure whereby we do that, and I want to note that first nations communities, unfortunately, do not have that same opportunity, with the lack of the enforcement of transparency via the first nations transparency act. They do not, and it's getting worse for a number of communities to get that basic information so they can look at it and hold their governments to account for how they spend the money. Certainly, an example is the lunch program money that went missing. I think that if communities had detailed information, they would perhaps recognize that they weren't getting that lunch program.
I wanted to put that on the record, because I continue to be very concerned that there is not an opportunity for communities to have the same privileges that we do in holding their governments to account.
I want to get into the nuts and bolts of the estimates because, of course, that's what we're here for.
As we know, for communities, small amounts of money can be very important. The first thing I'm going to ask you about is the $600,000 transfer from INAC to Public Safety “to support activities related to” an international reduction strategy. That looks like a conference in Montreal from May 7 to May 9.
That $600,000 is a lot of money. It could build perhaps three homes. It could fund the Wapekeka program for suicide prevention.
It sounds like it's for a bit of a gabfest in Montreal. I would like you to justify to the people of Wapekeka and the people of Attawapiskat why this particular conference is a better use of dollars than perhaps funding their suicide prevention program.
There is a plan. We're very proud of the plan. Thank you for the question.
As you know, we started with a huge deficit and lots of communities in terrible shape. We have worked with all of the communities with long-term water advisories, but also the communities with high-risk systems that need to be moved to medium- and low-risk systems. We are pleased that we've lifted the boil water advisories in 18.
I think as you know, of the 71 that are left, maybe 10 are at Slate Falls and seven in another community. In actually getting water systems into those communities that have a number of pumphouses and a number of boil water advisories, we will, I think, make significant progress.
As you know, it's a three-phased deal. We have to do the predesign, the design, and the implementation. As you pointed out, that takes time, but we do believe we'll be able to do this in the five years, along with our budgeting for the maintenance and the training. As we heard on the news last night, chiefs are worried that they train up an operator and then he gets poached to the local town. We have to be able to make sure that we are building systems that can be self-sustaining within communities and that we also have those proud people as the water managers in their communities wanting to stay and look after their communities.
My next question is on the childhood claims litigation. There's a supplementary request for an allocation of $3.1 million. I want some clarification with respect to that. Are there litigation activities involved?
When I asked you the question in the House, you were pretty clear that you would not appeal the decision on the sixties scoop, but later on, after you went out of the House, you weren't as clear as you were in the House, unfortunately.
We hear that there may be the possibility of a request for technical clarifications by your government, which is very clearly a procedural delay, in my view.
If my calculation is right, $3.1 million for the remainder of the fiscal year is about $100,000 a day. What is this money for?
It's the other MP McLeod.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for your presentation to us today.
First off, I want to say that I'm quite pleased with the amount of progress we have made in getting the aboriginal governments back to the negotiating tables in the Northwest Territories. I think we are moving towards self-governance in the future, and having 10 sets of discussions all going at the same time is really refreshing to see. Also the idea of bringing in four MSRs to review some of the more challenging negotiations is something that I think is going to bring some good results.
I had an opportunity to meet with Mary Simon the other day on the studies she is doing, and we had a very good discussion.
I'm looking at the supplementary estimates document. There is one area in which we have money, but I want to flag something. I've said this before, so it's probably not going to be new to you. We are studying suicides across Canada, mostly in our smaller indigenous communities. In the north it is a huge issue, as you know. On average, doing my own math and using Statistics Canada information, we're estimating that in the three territories, we have a suicide every eight to ten days. Since we started our suicide study a little over a year ago, we have had over 50 in the north.
When we look at the breakout of the money, the $8.4 billion that was announced for aboriginal people, we don't qualify for any of those dollars. There is no real carve-out for us under that. The post-secondary education money that's been announced, we don't qualify for. The money has announced through Health, for younger children, we don't qualify for. Jordan's principle doesn't apply to us. As aboriginal governments, we have never received housing money except this time around for the Inuvialuit, which was good. Hopefully that trend is going to continue.
We talk about culture and recreation centres. Our aboriginal centres don't qualify for those, because we don't have reserves, so almost everything you announce doesn't apply to us. We have communities that are full of aboriginal people, but they are public communities.
I'm hoping we are going to try to find a way through that so that it is fair. Our fears are being confirmed through the Auditor General. He's reviewed our community and said we're not meeting all the infrastructure needs, that we are really falling below what needs to be funded. The aboriginal government claims that have been settled, the Auditor General has reviewed and said we're not meeting our obligations, so we have a lot of work to do.
As I look at the supplementary estimates document we have in front of us, I see that there is going to be some work done on an Arctic regional environmental study, which I am really happy to see move forward finally. However, the breakout under vote 1 and vote 10 really doesn't seem to be fair. As you stated, vote 1, which is over $900,000, is for the department. Over 50% of the money is going to go to the government, to the department. Then there is $850,000 in vote 10.
Could you tell me what the department is going to do with the $900,000? Why does it need more than half of it? Are they going to do the bulk of the study? Is the $850,000 going to be available for the aboriginal governments or territorial governments? It's not clear to me.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for being here today.
I think I'll just continue right on in the same vein there. The whole legal system in Canada is set up such that if you aren't going to appeal a decision, you therefore accept the decision and have to abide by the ruling.
We had Cindy Blackstock here just last week telling us that you weren't appealing tribunal decisions but that you didn't seem to be implementing their decisions either. This seems to be an ongoing trend in the same vein as the transparency act's being the law of the land while you are just not enforcing it. I guess I have a significant struggle with that since the basic rule of democracy is the rule of law. If we voted in the House of Commons to suspend the rule of law in this country, I don't think that would be a legitimate vote, because the rule of law is a basic, fundamental part of democracy. So I'm struggling with that. It seems to be an ongoing trend of yours. That's just probably more of a comment.
Cindy Blackstock was here the other day asking about Jordan's principle, and I see in the supplementary estimates here that we have $1 million dollars for Jordan's principle. I know that her organization was asking for $155 million for Jordan's principle, and you made an announcement of about $382 million. Can you just explain to me the $1 million that we see in the supplementary estimates and how that works? There might be a good explanation for it, but I'm just not sure how.... We have several different numbers running around. Last month, the number was $5 million. Can you just try to line that up for me?
There are two parts to the tribunal decision. One is the child welfare system and the other is Jordan's principle. As you know, manages Jordan's principle in terms of the health care needs.
We get a small amount of that to deal with housing and assisted living, the kinds of things that would be more for quality of life as opposed to actual health care. As you know, this year we made available the money for Jordan's principle in the $382 million over three years; $88 million was made available this year. Out of that, we have identified 3,200 kids who now will get care who weren't getting it before the broadening of that definition.
It is about us identifying the children and making sure they get the care they need. That's where the ramping up takes place, because that definition was only changed July 1. It used to be that it had to be multiple disabilities, multiple agencies. Now, any child with a disability will no longer have this sort of fight between provinces and federal government as to who pays. We have put that money in place.
The $155 million that Dr. Blackstock talked about is for the combination of both Jordan's principle and the child welfare. We're very pleased that this year we've made available $197.7 million, and that there will be, as of the next fiscal year, $246.6 million available for the combination of the changes to the child welfare program as well as Jordan's principle.
We also know that we have to change the system, because too much money is still going to lawyers to apprehend children. We want more money into communities so that these kids don't end up with the system at all.
Mr. Fisher, I think you know that water systems have been a big problem in Atlantic Canada. Hopefully, we will be able to look at that for Potlotek First Nation and the one that was very noticeable in the news.
Let me just see. I have a handy-dandy sheet on Atlantic Canada. There are 23 projects and 16 communities being funded for water and waste water; 72 projects and $11.5 million for housing; education facilities, $7.7 million; culture and recreation, $3.9 million; energy, sustainability, and connectivity, $1.1 million; fundamental community infrastructure, $6.7 million.
I'd be happy to give you that. Also, because of Labrador, there's $4 million for Inuit housing. We'll break it down for you.
That's what we're hoping to do. What we're hoping to do for everybody here very shortly is to be able to release the water and wastewater projects that are happening coast to coast to coast.
I have a couple of questions that I wasn't able to ask last time.
Regarding the money for specific land claims and self-government agreements, I know in the Northwest Territories we have some governments that are quite anxious to move forward. Some of them have self-government claims from almost eight or nine years ago, and with the previous government, they just got stalled, nothing moved forward, and it was a legal battle for years and years.
I was quite pleased that you chose to intervene and try to untangle the legal mess that we're in and commit to a collaborative approach to try to resolve it, and I think we're moving forward. We're not moving forward fast enough for any of us, I think, but I'm just wondering if some of the money that was committed here in this request is for the Northwest Territories and some of those government that are working to—
Thank you, Madame Chair.
What the department has tried to do to provide more clarity with regard to the supplementary estimates is to prepare this PowerPoint presentation to address potential anticipated questions.
What we have in front of us, moving to page 2, is essentially how much we have been given by Parliament to date in terms of authorities, and then what the supplementary estimates provide us with. So what you will see on page 2 is essentially that, net of transfers and other adjustments. We are seeking parliamentary authority for an additional $92 million, to take us to the $9.5 billion amount.
Page 3 essentially breaks down, in a summary way, the amounts that we are requesting by key initiative, and it also tries to provide you with how that relates by vote. As the minister noted in her remarks, vote 1 is for certain purposes vis-à-vis vote 10. Vote 10, as you know, is for grants and contributions for recipients, versus vote 1, which is for salaries and operating dollars.
Page 4 is an attempt to try to deal with questions that were posed by members on the rationale for the $56 million in additional emergency-related costs beyond what we have in the department's existing reference levels. The minister cited a number of examples of events for which we had already issued a reimbursement. Now we are seeking parliamentary authority for reimbursement to cover those costs from a departmental basis, and to ensure that we're within the authorities granted to us by the parliament.
Page 5 just tries to provide you with a bit of a picture of some of those costs that are being reimbursed. This is an example of the effort to try to build back Kashechewan after the flooding, showing some of the homes. You will note that it is an example of a home without a basement, thus dealing with the reality of the ground there, whereas the ones that were in Kashechewan before the flood all had basements and, therefore, suffered from the flooding.
Page 6 is our request for additional funds related to the operation return home project. This is a multi-year engagement to ensure that we repair, rebuild, and re-establish the four Manitoba first nations that, unfortunately, were significantly impacted by severe flooding in 2011. We are anticipating a return of all the evacuees to the four first nations communities by 2018-19.
What you have then, following page 6, are photographs of the progress being made across those four first nations communities. We are providing the necessary infrastructure so that when the evacuees do return, they will have their homes, their roads, their water treatment plants, and sewage systems consistent with the community, and to ensure that it's functioning.
Page 8 is essentially a request for $10 million to ensure the continued negotiations between Canada, the Province of Ontario, and seven Williams Treaty first nations. This is essentially consistent with the minister's direction not to litigate but to negotiate out of the Alderville litigation that was filed in 1992.
I believe that page 9 was adequately addressed based on the questions between members and the minister with regard to the purpose of the $3 million for indigenous childhood claims litigation. As the minister stated, it is essentially for research and analysis to ensure that when we do negotiate, we are dealing with appropriate class sizes, and that we rectify appropriately the wrongs that were done in the past.
Page 10 is some background on what is essentially the purposes of the Arctic regional environmental studies, and you will note, on page 11, some examples of committee engagements in the past in similar areas related to environmental studies.
Finally, this is essentially the provision of languages for the 11 self-governing Yukon first nations that Mr. McLeod mentioned, and that is consistent with their self-governing agreements.
That's it for the presentation. I'm happy to address, along with my colleagues, any questions that you may have.
I have two lines of questioning. The first one is an ongoing concern that I have about consistent funding for aboriginal people across the board. I think I've raised it a number of times with you.
I wanted to get some reassurance that the department is investing in aboriginal people in a fair way, whether on reserve, off reserve, or south of the border—whether it's in the communities in the southern provinces or in the communities in the north. Explain to me how your mandate allows you to do that. Indigenous Affairs seems to be focused and mandated only on reserves, and reserves in the south. The reserves in my riding keep telling me that they don't qualify for on-reserve funding, even though they are federal reserves. They're being told that they should get a territorial government, but they're federal reserves. We don't qualify, as I pointed out, for a whole slew of program announcements that were made by this government.
Can you just explain to me how we do that without actually going to an audit to see how fair the funding is? Are the people in my riding being provided with the same money per capita as other jurisdictions?
I will start, and then I'll turn to my colleague, Mr. Thoppil, on that.
There are different entry points for providing funding for indigenous people, and it is quite true that for the Indian bands that are governed by the Indian Act, there is a certain type of funding agreement that is quite formula-driven and is similar, depending on the various sizes of population. There are other entry points, depending on whether there is a land claim agreement or a self-government agreement, or whether indigenous people live off reserve or in urban areas, but there is programming to actually support them.
With respect to being able to give you a specific picture as to whether or not exactly the same dollars are going to everybody, I would point out that in the case of the north, there are different arrangements with the territories. So it wouldn't be adequate to give an identical breakdown per capita, as you're asking. However, what we could do for you is to provide you with information about all the funding that goes particularly to the Northwest Territories, or north of 60 in general, and which entry door that funding flows.
Paul, would you like to add anything?
Yes, I would very much appreciate that. I've been struggling with the issue and trying to confirm for my constituents that we're being funded in a fair manner and on par with other communities. I'm not getting that. I am not hearing that we are receiving equal funding.
I've talked to the territorial government. They've reassured me that there isn't a special arrangement, that there is no special mention of aboriginal responsibility in their funding formulas. I would appreciate it if you could tell me, maybe through a graph, how we are funded on par. I'd appreciate it if we could dig down a little deeper—maybe not right now but as we move forward.
In all fairness, I have to demonstrate that I'm representing my communities, and funding is an important part. If we're not getting housing money when everybody else is getting aboriginal housing money, if we're not getting health and education money, all of these different things that are being provided across the country and we don't qualify in the north.... Nunavut is a good example too. They don't get the same kind of monies that the reserves are getting. I'd like to have further information, if you could provide that to me.
In this supplementary request, you pointed out at one point that there's $1.8 million for the studies that we're finally going to undertake. I think the request and desire to move forward on that has been there for a while. The overall anticipated budget is $19 million over five years. Is there a plan attached to that? Can I see some information on when the money's going to be rolled out, in what areas? Do we have a budget, a breakout, an action plan? This has generated a lot of interest, and a lot of questions are coming my way. I'd like to be more specific.
Thank you very much, Mr. Saganash, for the question.
Technically it's an exercise that we do across all programs with defined purposes, and Jordan's principle is an example of that. Over the course of the fiscal year we examine the degree of expenditures associated with the budget allotment, and then, depending upon the degree of usage, we will engage with the central agencies and make a request for re-profiling some months before the end of the fiscal year to ensure that the dedicated pot is used for its intended purposes in future years.
That requires a justification process, and when they approve that—which usually requires the Minister of Finance's approval—then you see related to that a frozen allotment, as was noted in response to a previous question by a member of the committee, and then it gets reallocated. What tends to happen is that when the public accounts get published, you will sometimes notice huge amounts of lapses, which are due to the frozen allotments that have forced those lapses. But what the public accounts lapses don't indicate is the re-profiles that have transpired to keep that money going.
When you look at the gross lapse in the public accounts, you have to understand that there are two aspects to it. There is the planned lapse, and then there is the actual net lapse for which spending did not go. For example, last year the gross lapse for the department was $900 million, but then when you start taking into account all those re-profiled amounts, the net amount was actually $900,000.
That's just a technical response to your question about ensuring that dedicated pots of money are always managed to ensure that they are available in future years for their intended purposes.
I'm probably going to sound like a broken record over the next couple of months, as my broken rib, thanks to my Conservative colleagues, heals up. I've never had one before. If I grimace, it's because of my rib situation.
Having said that, I'm no doctor and I'm no financial expert. However, I was looking at page 2, the operating expenses versus the total budgetary expenses for 2016-17, and it's close to 10% for the operating expenditures of the department.
In relation to other departments, is that about equal? I know departments differ, but for a comparable department to the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, would that be consistent in terms of operating expenditures and, I would imagine, for offices, employees, and other such things? Is that consistent among like departments in government?
I have a couple of things to say on that. I think the department is more than adequately resourced. We are able to face what is required to be done.
One of the things that traditionally or sometimes created a bit of pressure in our allocating of resources was when within a year some of the money was provided to the department per se, particularly on big ticket items such as vote 10. Last year, with the budget of 2016, there was a tremendous effort made by the central agencies to give us access to that money much earlier in the year, which allowed us in turn to fan it out more quickly to first nations and to amend the contribution agreements more quickly to be able to give them the security of the funding they would be getting, particularly on infrastructure. I'm happy to say that, as of today, we're close to having 98% of all the funding already committed to the communities, and they know exactly what they're going to be getting.
A lot of efforts have been made in that direction. Is it perfect? The discussion on a new fiscal relationship may open up doors to make it even more efficient down the road, but I am proud to say that we've made improvements in that respect. In previous years, sometimes we would get the bulk of the money only in the supplementary (C)s, which would have been today. If you look at the supplementary (C)s of this year compared to the year before, you see that it's really for the things that would have emerged during the year, as opposed to being a big chunk of the money that we were promised in the previous budget.
So the central agencies—Finance and Treasury Board—I think should be commended for that.
Mr. Viersen very kindly agreed to give me one minute of his time.
I have a quick follow-up. Certainly, you've talked about the public accounts, and I think it's really unfortunate that it gets stated the way it is, because it often leads to those headlines that a billion dollars was not spent for communities.... Truly, I think a simple change to that would be to say, “This was the true amount unspent, and this is the amount that has been re-profiled.” It would not be a big change. To be quite frank, I'm not sure why we haven't done that, because the way the amounts are stated now really does create misperceptions out there about what we're doing.
To Treasury Board, you certainly would have my support to be a little clearer in that particular reporting structure.
Having said that, we've talked about the $100 million that has been administratively frozen. You gave some, I think, reasonable explanations, but what we don't have.... I am asking if you could table specifically for that $100 million what has been frozen and why it has been frozen. I don't expect that here today, but I think we need to be able to see what was not spent, why it was not spent, and its re-profiling for next year, versus what truly has lapsed. That's my one request to you.
Thank you for the question.
I believe the minister in previous appearances, and in her opening remarks, talked about how, from her vantage point of being a parliamentarian for so many years, the current estimates process does not work in providing the clarity that you've noted. That's why, in the President of the Treasury Board's mandate letter, he is charged with reforming the estimates.
My understanding is that the President of the Treasury Board and his officials are engaged with the public accounts committee on a reform process and trying to understand what reporting structure would, as a previous member has cited, would work best for purposes of alignment. Some of the options that are being discussed, as I understand it, between the public accounts committee and the Treasury Board are things like trying to ensure that when the budget is tabled, the main estimates, when eventually tabled, include substantially more of those budget announcements so that we can try to minimize for parliamentarians the disconnect between the main estimates and the budget.
That's just one option that is being discussed. They're talking about trying to deal with the public accounts reporting so that, as another member mentioned, these notions of gross lapses don't give an unfair picture of the degree of funding. But it is a bit of a conundrum. There have been some experiments done in other jurisdictions, such as Ontario and Australia, which are also being looked at in terms of alignment. However, I will defer to the public accounts committee on works best for Parliament going forward.
There are two things that should not be confused. It is true that $88 million were set aside to be sure there was enough money on hand. We must remember that, when the definition of the Jordan principle was broadened in July, it was hard to know where we were starting from.
Together with Health Canada—since the costs are mostly covered by Health Canada—, we decided to be cautious so we would not run out of money during the year. So we set aside $88 million. To date, we have spent approximately $11.9 million, but we are also expecting additional invoices at a later date. So that amount will probably increase.
As to the million dollars, it is a transfer for the part related to the Indigenous and Northern Affairs mandate. That is so the claimant does not have to wonder whether to apply to Indigenous and Northern Affairs or Health Canada. The $88 million is pooled funding. Then it depends on the expenditures that are required. We can be responsible for a program that provides housing assistance or supports other activities within our mandate.
In our case, we needed $1 million of that $11.9 million for our own expenditures. Most of the expenditures pertain to health. Otherwise they can include modifying a house or widening a door so a wheelchair can get through, things like that. Our part in the Supplementary Estimates (C) it is that one million.
In practical terms, people can go into any regional office of Indigenous and Northern Affairs or Health Canada. There is also a telephone information line.
When that information is received and a case is identified, it is confirmed at the outset that the money will be given and the funding provided. We then make arrangements behind the scenes.
The idea behind the Jordan principle was to make this as simple as possible. In the past, people had to knock on several doors, while we were left wondering who should intervene.
We have stopped all that. People go in one door and then...
we sort it out among ourselves.
The individual, the user, receives the service regardless of where they request it and regardless of whether it is a health service or a service from Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Then we reconcile our accounts. It is like a...
client-focused service as opposed to being a jurisdictional-focused service.
That is probably the harshest criticism that was made about the way it used to be administered.